Following the sealed-with-a-kiss finale of your ceremonial “I Do’s,” the next step in your wedding journey is often a segment overlooked in traditional wedding plans: the route to the reception. For some couples, the method of transportation when heading towards your reception party, or cocktail fête, is transformed into a festivity of its own. What better way to kick-off an unforgettable night of dancing and celebration than with a wedding march jam-packed with big brass bands, extraordinary props, and a procession of your nearest and dearest. For the bride and groom, a wedding parade puts the members of the wedding party front and center as they lead guests from the ceremony site to the following scheduled location. We’ve gathered four global examples of how these parades have become a bash all their own….and why they’re too fun to miss!
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Read on for some seriously festive ways to get your wedding party from the ceremony to the reception.
1. If you prefer to march with a beignet
A celebration used for almost every major occasion in the famous Mardi Gras-filled streets of New Orleans, the historic second line parade in Louisiana is best described as a brass band-filled celebration of life. The term “second line” was coined for the section following the “main line,” or “first line” of parade marchers (the first line typically includes the brass band) and encompasses those who are following to enjoy the joyous procession of music; in the case of a wedding, the second line would include guests/partygoers. Tracing all the way back to the 19th-century, this jazz influenced march is as iconic to New Orleans as beads and beignets.
2. If you prefer travel and tequila
“In San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, the wedding parade, or callejoneada, is a beloved local tradition,” recalls Rosewood San Miguel de Allende’s Wedding Specialist Manager, Bertha Santiago. “It is customary for the parades to take place before the rehearsal dinner or after the church ceremony, depending on the bride and groom’s preference. Music and large puppets, called mojigangas—depicting the bride and groom—are distinctive qualities of the parade.” The bride and groom are even able to personalize their mojiugangas, the procession’s grand and vibrant puppets. “For example, if the groom has glasses, his mojiganga can have glasses, or if the couple are fans of Frida Kahlo, the bride’s mojiganga can resemble Frida! That is what makes the parades so special; they all have elements of traditional Mexican culture, while at the same time uniquely reflecting the bride and groom.” Tradition also claims a donkey to head the march carrying alcohol like tequila, mezcal, or red wine. There’s nothing like a wedding with a festive donkey to carry your favorite drink!
3. If you have a taste for theater and British history
You should never feel hindered location-wise when it comes to the prospect of producing your own wedding procession. If you find yourself unable to make it to the streets of New Orleans, or the colorful “calles” of Mexico, tap into your ancestry when in need of some serious parade inspiration. Lyndsey Hamilton, founder and creative director of Lyndsey Hamilton Events, shared her experience with a British couple that opted for a parade heralded by trumpeters as a nod to their British heritage. “We produced a wedding on Martha's Vineyard last fall that required moving guests to separate locations throughout the client’s property. Two trumpeters provided a clarion call from the balconies overlooking the backyard of the house during cocktail hour. Following the trumpeter’s fanfare, an actor playing the part of an English Butler made the announcement that dinner is served in the paddock. The Butler and trumpeters then led the guests on a parade to the dinner tent, which was located inside the riding paddock. Once guests arrived in the tent, we had a string quartet playing traditional British folk music throughout dinner.”
4. If you have a soft spot for tiki torches
If electing for a destination wedding, one of the best ways to honor your chosen geographical site is to become fully immersed in the location’s respected traditions. Founder and creative director of Brooke Keegan Special Events, Brooke Keegan, spoke about a recent wedding celebration on the Hawaiian island of Lanai where the bride and groom chose to fully embrace the surrounding Hawaiian culture. “On the evening of the wedding, we had a Hawaiian conch shell blower in traditional garb lead the guests from cocktails to the reception while lighting the path of tiki torches the entire way. He blew the shell just prior to lighting each set of torches and it created an amazing atmosphere and experience for the guests while keeping with local Hawaiian traditions.